Monday, March 8, 2021

9 Products that Help With My Migraines

If you're anything like me, you're on the constant look out for anything that gives migraine relief. (After all, I'm sure that's why you clicked on my blog link, right?) 

I remember my first-ever migraine like it was yesterday. I was six years old, and laying on the couch. My mom was worried, and I couldn't lift my head without tears streaming out of my eyes. Little did we know, that moment was the start of migraines becoming a part of my daily life due to my birthmark causing a rare disease called Sturge-Weber syndrome. Since then I've had countless MRIs to track my birthmarks affects on my brain, been prescribed preventive migraine medication, and medication to help migraines when they hit.

So, after 20-something years of migraines, and 20-something years of searching after products that have helped me...I thought I'd share what I have liked the most. But remember – I'm not a doctor. I'm just a professional migrainer constantly on the search, trying to share my findings.

Also, side note: I may earn a commission if you purchase something from the recommended links. And depending on when you read this entry, the prices may vary.

1. Shiatsu Back Shoulder and Neck Massager with Heat

This is one of my very favorite things I own in my self-care kit. This works out those tense muscles in the neck and shoulders that sometimes cause those migraines and headaches due to daily life issues. You can also use it on your lower back if needed, too! And with the arm straps? You can modify it as needed to put extra pressure on specific spots. For my life style, a major bonus is that this product also comes with a car plug-in for those long rode trips that can tire out the body.

Current Price: $49.98

2. Ice Roller

My usual go to is an ice-pack, which I'll share later in this list. However, I always keep this in my freezer. This has been known to help me as well. Not only does it have the ice-pack affect, but my husband can rub it on my neck or the back of my head – which is a huge help. This version of the ice roller comes with two changeable rollers, one plastic and one metal. 

Current Price: $17.99

3. Gel Bead Migraine Wrap

This has newly been added to my collection – but I love it! Most ice packs that I buy cover my eyes because I usually love the black-out affect, but I don't always need that affect. Sometimes I still have energy and the light isn't what affects my migraine. This icepacks hits my temples, the front of my head, and has a velcro strap so you can pick how tight you want it to be. Often you can find me fighting my migraine on the couch, still able to watch TV with this on. Or, if it's an even better day – I may even be able to throw a load of laundry in or cook dinner thanks to this guy.

Current Price: $8.99

4. Migraine Stick

If you were to look in my purse, you will always find the migraine stick. If I'm out and about and I feel a migraine coming on, I take my medication but I rub some of this on my temples, neck, and head. It does have an essential oil scent to it – which I don't mind, but it's not been my husband's favorite. But for me, this is five stars out of five stars. When I run out – I'm definitely getting more.

Current Price: $11.99

5. Head Massager

When I'm experiencing a migraine, I for sure can't use this tool alone. However, if you have someone who doesn't mind loving on you a bit, this will be a good distraction during the pain and sometimes doesn't help. It's not usually my go-to, but I have been known to turn to this a time or two!

Current Price: $9.89

6. Airbag Head Scalp Massager

Out of all the things I've ever tried, I think I was the most skeptical about this. However, this won me over fast! This plugs into an outlet near wherever you're sitting or laying, and runs for 10 minutes. It velcro around your head, and fills with air compressions on and off – like an airbag. Just constantly. For 10 minutes at a time. I remember when my husband and I tried this out, and my husband (who doesn't even get migraines) told me, "I want to get another one for my desk at work. This is so relaxing."

Current Price: $79.99

7. Eye Mask

This is by far my all-time favorite things on this list. Ice packs just help my migraines like nothing else (well, except my medication), and this one blocks out the light and has a velcro strap that let's me adjust how tight I want it around my head. It also can be heated or used cold, and comes with a washable, soft, fabric cover. It's so soothing that I often will fall asleep using it, even in the midst of the pain.

Current Price: $12.95

8. Headache and Migraine Relief Cap

I like that this ice pack can cover the whole head. Most migraine-focused ice packs I have focus on the front of my head, or the temples, But this ones covers everything.  The design even takes into consideration women's hair and the need to get it out of the way with a pony tail, too! I love the pressure of this cap, and of course – that it's cold.

Current Price: $26.34

9. Excedrin Migraine 

Before you take this, I do recommend you ask your doctor if it's OK for you and your body and medical conditions. For me, though, if my migraine medication doesn't do my migraine justice, I switch to this. It doesn't take away my migraines, but it's a good ally to keep in the cabinet. 

Current Price: $19.89

Now that you've read my list, what would you add to it?

The Travelin' Chick,


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

After a Nurse Was Flippant About My Facial Difference

Woman with purple birthmark on her face wears a face mask, looking to her side.
The other day, my phone rang. It was right before Christmas and I noticed my doctor’s office was calling me. Knowing I didn’t have an appointment for a few months, I was confused as to why they were calling.

In October, at this very same doctor's office, I had met with a nurse who I had seen nearly every month during 2020 at my specialist's office. She knew who I was. She even knew my story. But this crisp day in October caught me off guard. 

As she was helping me that day in the office, her forehead quickly began to wrinkle. Pointing to her face, she began to speak. Without a voice of concern, she instead nosily and rudely asked me, "What happened to you?"

Knowing it wasn't my first time there, nor our first discussion about it (not to mention that it is listed on my medical chart), I quickly became annoyed but tried to maintain my patience. This wasn't my first experience of this kind in a doctor's office. It isn't the worst, and it won't be my last.

Caught by surprise, I only replied on the spot with, "It's a birthmark. A port wine stain."

Flippantly the nurse replied, “Oh, that’s right. I guess I forgot.”

After this situation occurred, I went back to this doctor’s office and let my next doctor know about what happened with his coworker. I informed them that they need to know which patient they’re seeing before they walk into a room to properly treat them – and to show basic kindness and professionalism. 

"I'm secure in who I am," I explained to the man who stood before me, "But as an advocate with a facial difference — I can tell you that sadly, that's not everyone's story. I've ready stories about women who are forced to wear makeup to bed by their husband's because their husband's don't want to wake up and 'see that.' A birthmark like mine is so common, it shouldn't of been handled so flippantly because the person behind the the skin matters. Emotions and the stories matter. Every patient matters. It's also a simple thing to just check the medical chart before walking in the room."

For weeks I never knew what occurred after I shared about what happened within those four walls.

Yet, the biggest gift was given to me when my phone rang that December morning.

Answering my phone, it was the very same nurse who saw me that day. The same nurse who had seemed so flippant about my facial difference. 

"Hello?" I answered.

"Hello, is this Crystal?" I heard a female voice ask.

After confirming that it was, she went on.

"It was brought to my attention that I didn't handle our interaction very well last time we saw one another. In fact, I put my foot in my mouth and I chewed on it...And it makes me sick to think about it. I apologize."

She. Apologized.

Out of all the situations I've ever experienced in public, with doctors, nurses, on social media...This doctor is the first to ever apologize. 

"I became a nurse because I care about people, and I have compassion about others. You didn't get me on my best day and I didn't show that to you, and again, I'm sorry."

Within our 15 minutes on the phone, we had a sweet conversation together. It was important to me to readdress some of the issues I told the doctor, because I wasn't here to just "complain." I was hoping to teach and educate. To hope for a difference and to share why this experience mattered to me.

But also? It was more important to show her forgiveness. Grace. I had no desire to sit in bitterness or frustration of this situation, and she needed to know.

"Out of all the situations I've ever been in," I told her, "You're the first to ever apologize. Whether it's in a doctor's office or not. You've gone above and beyond. Thank you."

Before we ended the call, we both ended the conversation by agreeing that we hope to see each other and work together again in the future.

I'm now 29. The last thing I ever expected was a call from this nurse to offer me an apology...And to show a willingness to learn. To understand.

Yet, this was a sweet reminder to expect the unexpected. To remember that kindness is still out there, even when it's not expected.

There is hope.

The Travelin' Chick,

Crystal Hodges